Gary Michael Rose MOH

b. 17/10/1947 Watertown, New York.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 11-14/09/1970 Laos.

Gary M Rose MOH

Rose was born on 17 October 1947 in Watertown, New York, and later moved to the Los Angeles area. In 1965, he graduated from the James Monroe High School in Sepulveda. On 4 April 1967, he volunteered for the United States Army to avoid being drafted into the Marine Corps after his father, who had been in the Marine Corps during World War II, suggested one would not want to be a draftee in the Marine Corps.

Rose attended basic training at Fort Ord and Infantry Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon. He was promoted to private first class after graduating from the latter and was sent to the United States Army Airborne School due to his high aptitude test scores. Rose entered Special Forces training at Fort Bragg in October, graduating a year later as a Special Forces medic. Rose was first assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He reenlisted to be able to choose where he wanted to serve and in April 1969 was assigned to the 46th Special Forces Company in Lopburi, Thailand, where he trained Thai soldiers and border police medics. 

In April 1970, Rose requested transfer to South Vietnam and was assigned to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (SOG), for which the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) provided administrative support. He was based at Forward Operating Base II at Kontum, where he treated the wounded and local civilians. Rose was wounded on his first mission in June 1970, receiving his first Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal. On 11 September, he and a company-size exploitation force of Americans, Vietnamese, and Montagnards were inserted by CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters 70 kilometers inside Laos near Chavane in Operation Tailwind, a diversionary operation. Then-Sergeant Rose was responsible for medical care for fifteen other Americans and 120 Montagnards.

Between September 11 and September 14, 1970 he was credited with treating between 60 and 70 wounded and saving many lives; only three Montagnards died in Operation Tailwind. Rose was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but the award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross due to the classified nature of the mission in Laos. MACV commander General Creighton Abrams formally presented Rose the Distinguished Service Cross on 16 January 1971.

In April, when his tour in Vietnam ended, Rose was sent to the Spanish Language School in Anacostia, Washington, D.C. At the school Rose made the decision to attend Officer Candidate School because extending his contract with the Army would enable him to bring his new wife, Margaret, with him to Panama. After completing the school, he was assigned to the 8th Special Forces Group in Panama until August 1973, when he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning. Rose received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery in December, and attended the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill. He graduated from Cameron University in Lawton with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Military Science in December 1977. In 1978, Rose attended the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, and then was posted to various successive field assignments in Germany, New Mexico, South Korea, and Fort Sill over the next years. He retired from the Army with the rank of captain in May 1987.

Rose attended the University of Oklahoma, graduating in December 1989 with a Master of Arts in Communication. He worked as a writer of operator, user, and maintenance manuals and training designer for the manufacturing industry before finally retiring in 2010. Rose worked at Raytheon, which he left in 2003. He moved to Huntsville in 2005 to live near a friend who was a fellow Vietnam War veteran. In retirement, Rose remains involved in charity work, mainly through the Knights of Columbus.

In 1998, a joint CNN and Time magazine report incorrectly described Operation Tailwind as a mission to kill American defectors and claimed that American troops used sarin on civilians. Rose was among the Tailwind veterans called to the Pentagon in late June for interviews on the operation, and they refuted the claims. The story was retracted after a Department of Defense report concluded that the story was incorrect. After the controversy, an initiative began by SOG veterans to get their comrades’ heroism in Operation Tailwind recognized. In 2013, Rose received a call from Eugene McCarley, who commanded the company in Operation Tailwind, who told him that Army veteran and SOG researcher Neil Thorne wanted to request an upgrade to the Medal of Honor for Rose’s DSC. Thorne requested information from Rose, and then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter approved the award upgrade in 2016, and Alabama Representative Mo Brooks and Senator Jeff Sessions wrote Rose’s name into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, waiving the requirement the medal must be awarded within five years of the action. On 20 September 2017, the White House announced President Donald Trump would present Rose the Medal of Honor on 23 October. On 23 October, President Donald J. Trump presented Rose the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony.



Sergeant Gary Michael Rose distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Special Forces Medic with a company sized exploitation force, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. Between 11 and 14 September 1970, Sergeant Rose’s company was continuously engaged by a well-armed and numerically superior hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Enemy B-40 rockets and mortar rounds rained down while the adversary sprayed the area with small arms and machine gun fire, wounding many and forcing everyone to seek cover. Sergeant Rose, braving the hail of bullets, sprinted fifty meters to a wounded soldier’s side. He then used his own body to protect the casualty from further injury while treating his wounds. After stabilizing the casualty, Sergeant Rose carried him through the bullet-ridden combat zone to protective cover. As the enemy accelerated the attack, Sergeant Rose continuously exposed himself to intense fire as he fearlessly moved from casualty to casualty, administering life-saving aid. A B-40 rocket impacted just meters from Sergeant Rose, knocking him from his feet and injuring his head, hand, and foot. Ignoring his wounds, Sergeant Rose struggled to his feet and continued to render aid to the other injured soldiers. During an attempted medevac, Sergeant Rose again exposed himself to enemy fire as he attempted to hoist wounded personnel up to the hovering helicopter, which was unable to land due to unsuitable terrain. The medevac mission was aborted due to intense enemy fire and the helicopter crashed a few miles away due to the enemy fire sustained during the attempted extraction. Over the next two days, Sergeant Rose continued to expose himself to enemy fire in order to treat the wounded, estimated to be half of the company’s personnel. On September 14, during the company’s eventual helicopter extraction, the enemy launched a full-scale offensive. Sergeant Rose, after loading wounded personnel on the first set of extraction helicopters, returned to the outer perimeter under enemy fire, carrying friendly casualties and moving wounded personnel to more secure positions until they could be evacuated. He then returned to the perimeter to help repel the enemy until the final extraction helicopter arrived. As the final helicopter was loaded, the enemy began to overrun the company’s position, and the helicopter’s Marine door gunner was shot in the neck. Sergeant Rose instantly administered critical medical treatment onboard the helicopter, saving the Marine’s life. The helicopter carrying Sergeant Rose crashed several hundred meters from the evacuation point, further injuring Sergeant Rose and the personnel on board. Despite his numerous wounds from the past three days, Sergeant Rose continued to pull and carry unconscious and wounded personnel out of the burning wreckage and continued to administer aid to the wounded until another extraction helicopter arrived. Sergeant Rose’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were critical to saving numerous lives over that four day time period. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Special Forces, and the United States Army.